'Hit List', Snapchat Play Role in Escondido Man's Brutal Killing: Friends - NBC 7 San Diego

'Hit List', Snapchat Play Role in Escondido Man's Brutal Killing: Friends

Maithem Alfuraiji, 20, was identified Wednesday as the victim in a homicide investigation, police said.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Suspect in ‘Snapchat’ Killing Pleads Not Guilty

    Escondido Police say the popular app Snapchat helped them find the suspected killer in a homicide case. The suspect pleaded not guilty in court today. NBC 7’s Artie Ojeda reports. (Published Wednesday, May 3, 2017)

    A man's brutal killing in San Diego County involves a graphic Snapchat video and a so-called "hit list," according to friends of the victim and the defendant.

    The death of Maithem Alfuraiji, 20, was "senseless" and "heinous," the prosecutor said. Alfuraiji's close friend, the man who investigators say left clues to the killing on Snapchat, pleaded not guilty to a first-degree murder charge Wednesday.

    Salvador Alejandro Sanchez, 19, was arrested Sunday, accused of killing Alfuraiji and dumping his body in Valley Center, police said.

    Sanchez did not say anything when he appeared before a judge Wednesday in the county courthouse in Vista. His defense attorney told the court his client had no criminal history and argued for a low bail amount.

    Salvador Sanchez Appears in Vista Court in So-Called Snapchat Killing

    [DGO] Salvador Sanchez Appears in Vista Court in So-Called Snapchat Killing

    Defendant Salvador Sanchez listens in court as his attorney argues for a lower bail amount. Sanchez faces a first-degree murder charge in the death of his friend Maitham Alfuraiji. Sanchez entered a not guilty plea on Wednesday.

    (Published Wednesday, May 3, 2017)

    However, Deputy District Attorney Claudia Plascencia said, "In addition to the manner of death which was particularly senseless and uncalled for, this defendant is a danger to the community.”

    The judge agreed and set bail at $2 million.

    Alexander Gendron and Kevin Rosado, friends of both the defendant and the victim, spoke with reporters outside of court. The men said they were the ones who alerted police to investigate whether something bad had happened to their friend Alfuraiji.

    According to Escondido police, on Thursday, Sanchez got into a fight with Alfuraiji while drinking which resulted in Alfuraiji's death. Prosecutors described the two men as close friends.

    Rosado and Gendron confirmed this.

    “We have pictures together. We have stories together,” Rosado said adding that he doesn't understand the motive in the killing.

    Clues to Killing Found on Snapchat Account

    [DGO] Clues to Killing Found on Snapchat Account

    Investigators say they found clues to a killing on the Snapchat account of Salvador Sanchez. NBC 7's Omari Fleming reports one woman who's known Sanchez for years said a month ago he snapped, saying God told him to create a list of people to kill.

    (Published Wednesday, May 3, 2017)

    The two friends say they learned about the crime when they went to visit Sanchez.

    They say they saw white clothes covered in blood inside the defendant’s room.

    "When I looked at the white clothing, there was more blood than white," Gendron said.

    According to Rosado, Sanchez told them he wore white because he wanted to be pure.

    Rosado also recalled viewing a Snapchat story in which he heard a voice crying and sniffling and asking someone to 'Stop.'" Rosado said the voice belonged to Alfuraiji.

    However, Escondido police told NBC 7 clues to the killing were uncovered on Sanchez's Snapchat account in the form of text messages--not video or pictures.

    Plascencia would not confirm the details of the Snapchat video saying the investigation was ongoing. The investigation may reveal additional participants, she said.

    Sanchez was arrested during a traffic stop at Ash Street and Grand Avenue on Sunday, three days after the crime, police said.

    Gendron and Rosado said they would often hang out with the defendant and the victim.

    When asked if they could think of what may have prompted Alfuraiji's death, Gendron said that Sanchez had said he wanted to know what it felt like to kill someone.

    "He was twisted," Rosado said.

    A woman who has known the suspect told NBC 7 the suspect used Snapchat to share God told him to create a list of people to kill. The snap was posted approximately one month ago, the woman said.

    Gendron also recalled hearing of "the list" from Sanchez.

    As for the victim's family, his grandmother was in court for the hearing.

    “They are dealing with the death of a loved one, a young man so they are trying to process everything at this time,” Plascencia said.

    Anyone with information can call Detective John O’Donnell at (760) 839-4756, or leave an anonymous tip at 760-743-TIPS (8477).

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